Panel Paper: Nonresident Fathers' Involvement and Welfare Policies: Impacts On Childhood Hunger

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 9:10 AM
Salon D (Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Steven Garasky, IMPAQ International, LLC, Daniel Miller, Boston University, Lenna Nepomnyaschy, Rutgers University and Gabriel Lara-Ibarra, IMPAQ International

The overarching goal of this study is to understand the impact of involvement by nonresident fathers on their children’s food insecurity -- especially with regard to very low food security --within the context of social policies which may impact nonresident fathers’ involvement and resident mothers’ access to social welfare benefits.

We address this goal by focusing on three specific aims. First, we will examine how different types of nonresident father involvement impact child food security. Second, we will identify the impacts of TANF rules regarding the treatment of child support income on nonresident father involvement and resident mother SNAP and TANF participation. Third, we will establish whether the impacts of TANF rules regarding the treatment of child support income and resident mother program participation decisions moderate the effects of nonresident father involvement on child food security. Multiple regression models for longitudinal panel data will be estimated to address the three research questions. Specifically, we will estimate fixed-effects models to control for static (unchanging) unobserved factors which would influence both father involvement and food insecurity. Additionally, because in the post-Welfare reform era covered by our datasets treatment of child support income for TANF varies among states but does not typically vary within states (making fixed effects models not feasible), we will estimate three-level [individual measurement occasions (level 1), nested within children (level 2), nested within states (level 3)] models.This project takes advantage of unique aspects of four national longitudinal data sets, which have (among them) extensive measures of the different types of nonresident fathers’ involvement, as well as the necessary measures of very low food security among children.

The data sets are the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) and Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics-Child Development Supplement (PSID-CDS).This research will result in a better understanding of the impact of nonresident father involvement on their children’s food security status within the context of social policies which may impact involvement and resident mothers’ access to social welfare benefits (e.g., program participation). Food insecurity and very low food security rates are almost double the national average in families headed by single mothers. The U.S. has numerous policies and programs to address child food insecurity, each with its own rules for treatment of income in determining eligibility and benefits. Specific to this research is the differing treatment of child support income by SNAP and TANF. From this research, policy makers will have a greater understanding of the families with food insecure or hungry children, along with their circumstances. By understanding the overlap of assistance programs in terms of determining eligibility and benefits levels and the impacts of these program rules on parental behavior, this research will enable policymakers and program administrators to best approach the goal of eliminating very low food security among children in single parent families.